The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) on Monday called upon the government to safeguard the welfare of the whistle blowers against lawsuits and vilification.
According to KHRC, whistle blowers have played a very critical role in exposing corruption scandals in the public sector.
Speaking at a public forum on defamation and whistle blowers protection law in Nairobi, the KHRC Executive Director, George Kegoro said that corruption cannot be fought without whistle blowers.
“Biwott, a high profile personnel in Moi’s government was awarded Sh. 67.5 million cumulatively, on several cases of defamation. It’s not by luck but a scheme,” said Kegoro.
Kegoro explained that the recent judgment on John Githongo to pay Sh.27 million to Chris Murungaru for defamation shows how powerful profiles have been using the law manipulatively to nab the whistle blowers.
Kegoro noted that Defamation has been used to discourage whistle blowing as tactic of Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (SLAPP), a scheme used by powerful individuals to depress public involvement on accountability and transparency that involve high ranking officers in public sectors.
He continued to say that whistle blowers have been on the receiving end since they are abused and their lives threatened, making them go into exile.
“The country needs a law backed by political awareness to protect the whistle blowers since we cannot enhance accountability unless we defend the whistle blowers,” affirmed Kegoro.
The Institute of Social Accountability, Executive Director, Wanjiru Gikonyo asserted that as much whistle blowers are penalized for exposing corrupt activities we must continue to stand firm and strong in the fight for accountability.
“The actions of the courts are discouraging the basic exercise of citizen sovereignty,” she said.
She reiterated that the public should start to agitate for laws that allow for their full expression of their independence to public participation.
Gikonyo said that several agencies in government in charge of checking on corruption should take part in safeguarding the whistle blowers who are critical in uncovering the vice.
She called upon the government to operationalize the whistle blower protection bill that lies in parliament since it will have positive impact on protecting the welfare of the whistle blowers.
By Purity Mumbua/Peter Ochol